Calisthenics – no one in the gym knows exactly what you’re doing, but deep down, we’re also all a bit jealous.
Various coaches and workout programs have grown in popularity to help everyday people become their best selves.
The System from Bar Brothers is that type of program, so let’s see if it’s any good.
Table of Contents
About the Creators – The Bar Brothers
Contrary to what the name suggests, Lazar Novovic and Dusan Djolevic are not brothers. These two are merely friends who found a brotherhood-like bond in the gym.
Dusan introduced Lazar to lifting and the sport of calisthenics, and Lazar loved every second of it. They soon started producing motivational videos on sites like YouTube, where they’ve amassed more than 700,000 subscribers over the years. They not only succeeded in motivating others but also changed their rather skinny bodies into aesthetic physiques.
It soon dawned upon them that they were now in a position to coach people. While calisthenics is well-known, it’s a fair niche sport – the perfect environment to make some money while coaching others.
Because they’ve spent months and years building their own physiques to perform the skills for the YouTube videos, they knew what it took to make progress. Thus, they started their own company: The Bar Brothers.
The System is the 12-week program that they created themselves to help men and women alike progress physically and mentally. They also have a bit of merch – some nice clothes and fitness gear!
However, like my grandpa always said, “a nice hoodie does not maketh the calisthenics man!”
… Or something like that.
Anyways, let’s have a look at the System.
Bar Brothers (The System) Overview
If you’ve ever been looking for a hands-on design, this is it. You can forget about fancy website designs or perfect UX/UI, Bar Brothers (The System) is literally just two guys that want to get their knowledge across.
Personally, I quite like that. It has a certain “It’s still your set” vibe. Just be aware that if you prefer a state-of-the-art design, it’s not for you.
- Fitness level: Beginner to intermediate
- Duration: 12 weeks
- Workouts per week: 5 – 6 workouts per week
- Average workout duration: 45 – 60 minutes
- Equipment needed: Minimal equipment
- Goal: Build muscle and gain strength
Again, this plan isn’t the smoothest from an interaction standpoint. This will be the last time I mention this before the conclusion. However, it’s not terribly intuitive. It’s iffy and quite hard to understand.
The System is split into 17 subsections, each with its own video(s) and information to help you along the way. You’ll start off with a Testing Phase to lay the baseline for where your strength and endurance are currently.
After this evaluation, you’re thrown into the deep end, as your first day is a leg day.
The System Details
Each week of this program is going to focus on improving your overall strength. When it comes to calisthenics (and the System), you shouldn’t be aiming to get huge. Your bite is supposed to be bigger than your bark.
All of the training will be done with little to no equipment. This, of course, is extremely beneficial because you can do it from the comfort of your own home, and you can start the process of getting ripped without weights.
Granted, you might need to invest in a few pull-up bars…
Dieting for Calisthenics
When it comes to training for calisthenics, you have to push your body to be the opposite of what most strength athletes are. You need to be as lean as possible while retaining a massive amount of strength and stability.
A big part of this is going to be managing your weight. Yup, there’s a reason these guys are so lean. In fact, before they even get into the program, they discuss nutrition…
But “discuss” is a very broad term. Unfortunately, they discuss all the wrong things.
Before we delve into what they get wrong, they do share a great video on how to make a mass gainer shake at home and another shake you can drink before a workout – nice. This is where the niceness stops abruptly, and you’re suddenly pounded over the head with misinformation that’s several years old…
The Body Type Discussion
Body types or otherwise known as somatotypes.
As you may or may not know, these body types include the ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph body types so often shown in diagrams or videos to explain why you can’t gain or lose weight.
- Ectomorphs are those who are naturally skinny and struggle to gain weight, and while they would make a great base for calisthenics, they may have trouble improving their strength.
- Mesomorphs are perfect all-around. Big shoulders, a tiny waist, and just the genetics to recover from anything and everything.
- Endomorphs are the big guys and gals, those who are probably better suited for powerlifting. They struggle with calisthenics and would need to spend a lot of time dieting.
It seems reasonable enough, and most people do probably fall within one or two of these types. Since this information is coming from coaches, it must be correct, right?
A big red-nosed no.
Somatotypes were invented in the 1900s by a psychologist named William Herbert Sheldon. He didn’t even just look at physical traits but mental traits as well. He made wild claims that people are more prone to crime due to adipose tissue, etc.
This was never proven. In fact, even the people of his time knew he was just talking nonsense. But, “Life, uh, finds a way” (shout-out to Dr. Malcolm), and the idea has stuck around – just like the idea that there could ever be a better Jurassic Park movie than the old ones.
Today, the theory of somatotypes is used to describe individuals who are just plain overweight or just don’t eat enough to gain weight. Sorry to sound blunt, but it’s the truth.
The Bar Brothers don’t mention any of the following in the nutrition section:
- What calories are, where they come from, and how the human body uses them
- How calories from protein differ from that of fats and/or carbs
- Why we need certain carbs and/or fats
- How much an individual would need based on goals
- How nutrition changes over the 12-week course
- How to make meal prep less of a hassle
- Meal timing and prioritizing certain foods at certain times
- Calorie management based on training/non-training days
- Hydration, supplementation, or micronutrients
- Literally anything else
They have three videos – two shakes and one about somatotypes – which is BS.
This is, honestly, a mess. I’ve seen more (and better) advice on Oprah.
Is the Training Any Better?
Now that we’ve taken some time to recover from the awful nutrition experience, let’s delve into this program’s training.
Does it progress week to week? Is there a tracking system? Are they actually trying to get you better?
For a program to be good – or at least good in regards to you getting results – it needs to adhere to one simple thing: progression. If you’re not making progress week to week, why would you be better at the end of 12 weeks?
They use a rather interesting method for strength training, which is simply “do as many reps as you can in a time period.” For instance, let’s look at the leg workouts from weeks 1, 6, and 12.
|Movement||Time to Train||Sets||Rest|
|High Knees||30 Seconds||3 – 4||30 Seconds|
|Squats||30 Seconds||3 – 4||30 Seconds|
|Jumping Lunges||30 Seconds||3 – 4||30 Seconds|
|Wall Sit||30 Seconds||3 – 4||50 Seconds|
|Calf Raises||20 Seconds||3 – 4||35 Seconds|
|Side Hops||20 Seconds||3 – 4||40 Seconds|
Compared to a regular gym bro leg workout, this doesn’t seem like much, but legs aren’t that important to a calisthenics athlete. They need strong glutes and hamstrings for static movements, and overall, the lighter the legs are, the better.
|Movement||Time to Train||Sets||Rest|
|Squats||35 Seconds||4 – 5||30 Seconds|
|High Knees||35 Seconds||4 – 5||30 Seconds|
|Jumping Lunges||35 Seconds||4 – 5||30 Seconds|
|Calf Raises||35 Seconds||4 – 5||40 Seconds|
|Wall Sit||35 Seconds||4 – 5||30 Seconds|
|Side Hops||35 Seconds||4 – 5||45 Seconds|
So we can see some progression here. They’ve increased the sets by one for each exercise but then also increased the amount of time you do those exercises.
More time is great – we know that muscle growth takes place due to mechanical tension, so more time under tension is ideal. While this part is good, the increased volume isn’t always as good… It’s not often we see coaches increase volume.
In fact, most coaches decrease volume as time progresses because the person has the ability to work harder per set. Could this be because of the specific training style? Maybe… It’s just not often we see people actually get better when we increase their volume.
What about week 12?
|Movement||Time to Train||Sets||Rest|
|Squats||30 Seconds||6 – 10||30 Seconds|
|High Knees||30 Seconds||6 – 10||30 Seconds|
|Jumping Lunges||30 Seconds||6 – 10||45 Seconds|
|Calf Raises||30 Seconds||6 – 10||50 Seconds|
|Wall Sit||30 Seconds||6 – 10||60 Seconds|
Now everything has changed dramatically! We’ve lost one movement, side hops, which is perfectly fine, but the volume has doubled in a few weeks! What?!
There’s so little reason to increase volume – ever. You have to be massively experienced for there to be a need for such volume, and they mention NOTHING about recovery! This isn’t shaping out to be a good plan.
A good plan sees you progressing in effort per set week to week, your volume stays the same or decreases, and you get stronger each week. That is how almost all strength athletes work, and looking at more popular calisthenics programs, they work the same.
Because the program is so primitive and limited in movement types and methods of progression (it is calisthenics, after all), they probably feel the need to bash you with volume. While they might see one or two people making some progress, this is the most primitive way to get better.
Am I a bit harsh? Maybe, but you would want your money’s worth, right? I would expect way more. In fact, I would ask for a refund.
The One Pro of the System
Whenever you purchase a program, there should be a clear indication of who this program was created for. Beginners wouldn’t follow the program created for pros and vice versa.
Unfortunately, the System doesn’t state anywhere who this plan is for. Therefore, you have to make that call yourself.
The reality is this plan is relatively okay for beginners, which is the biggest and only pro it really has. “No equipment” is a prerequisite for calisthenics, so it’s not really a pro. The biggest benefit of this plan is so simple is that virtually any beginner can follow this plan to the T.
There aren’t any methods of lifting or progression that are too hard to understand, and for the most part, the workouts aren’t hard. The videos (and the Bar Brothers) aren’t intimidating, and therefore, a beginner would love this environment.
Also, compared to other plans, I guess it’s rather cost-effective.
4 “The System” Cons
- It isn’t well-designed aesthetically or training-wise. The aesthetics of the site, the UX, and UI are all quite terrible, in fact, and while this doesn’t influence the quality of the product itself, it makes a difference overall. Moving on from there…
- The nutrition is woeful. Not only do they fail to mention any real facts, but they have a whole video featuring incorrect, unproven science. Compared to bodybuilders, a calisthenic athlete’s diet might be easier, sure, but it definitely still plays a massive role. I expected more from a program that promises to help you gain muscle and lose fat (don’t expect a Greek God physique from this one).
- The programming of the workouts is bad. Progression is based on volume, and you aren’t really encouraged to track your workouts. You’ll get a certain amount of time to do work, and that’s that. Sure, this might work for the gen pop looking to burn some fat at home while watching Days of Our Lives, but this isn’t how strength athletes should train. Ever.
- While there are plenty of videos, it’s apparent that these guys are quite young and fresh in the game. Now, this is perfectly fine, and I commend them for doing something as amazing as this. However, if you only have a hundred bucks to spend on a program… You’d probably go for a more professional approach.
Bar Brothers (The System) – Final Thoughts
I’m not about to say that it looks like this plan seems like it came from a shed in the midlands – because that’s a bit harsh, and it clearly came from an apartment (the videos are shot in their living room).
There are some pretty big flaws to Bar Brothers (The System). It isn’t really scientific, they share a lot of misinformation, and the science of the training is low-key non-existent. Furthermore, unless you’re a beginner, you’ll laugh at the training.
There’s a specific group of people who’d benefit from this plan – beginners. It isn’t a terrible plan overall, but it feels like they could’ve done better.
I would, personally, not invest $100 into this plan.
They fail to talk about progression, the importance of nutrition and recovery, or even break down what the overarching goals of calisthenics are. Other people (on Reddit) have similar opinions, and most say, “it’s just alright.”
The Bar Brothers could improve the plan by:
- Providing more information about nutrition
- Revealing tips on how to recover and why it’s important
- Changing training/diet to suit your daily life
- Using better training schemes
That’s a lot to improve, but these guys are very young, and they do have the ability to grow.
If you’re new to calisthenics and you want a training program (with no real information), this is the plan for you. Just make sure to watch and read other literature to get an idea of why you’re doing certain movements.
If you can already do some movements like a handstand or a back lever, maybe look elsewhere. There are plenty of programs online and various coaches on Instagram that’d suit you more.
Use the appropriate tools for the appropriate jobs.
Rating: 1.0 out of 5